Jackman's wife surprises him with award
AUSSIE heartthrob Hugh Jackman endeared the audience at the Broadway community's night of nights with his boyish yet indelible charm.
He was shocked when wife Deborah-Lee Furness presented him his Special Tony, for his contributions to Broadway and for raising more than $860,000 for Broadway Cares by auctioning his undershirts after performing.
"She has never kept a secret in her entire life," he said.
"(She said): 'I'm just off to the loo' and I said 'all right see you in a bit'.
"I love with you with all my heart. I know you hate public speaking and this is probably the greatest thing you've ever done for me.
"It means the world."
It was the first time they had seen each other after Jackman spent four months filming Les Miserables.
Jackman, 43, said it was his privilege to appear on stage every night on Broadway, which celebrates its best with the Tony Awards each year.
The stand-out of the evening was the bar-room musical Once which took nine awards from 12 nominations, including best musical, best director and best lead actor in a musical.
Bruce Norris's Clybourne Park, a Pulitzer prize-winning drama about race and real estate, won best play.
The much-hyped Newsies, a story about the 1899 New York City newsboy strike, won best score and best choreography from its eight nominations.
Best lead actress in a musical went to Audra McDonald who, in accepting her fifth Tony, is now equal with Angela Lansbury and Julie Harris for most wins and is youngest ever to win.
McDonald, known best outside America as Naomi Bennett in television drama Private Practice, told the audience: "I was a little girl with a potbelly and afro puffs, hyperactive and overdramatic.
"I found the theatre and I found my home."
Once producers told media their goal was to "strip this show down to the essence of what theatre is - to bring the simplicity of the theatre back".
"This piece is bigger than life," one said.
"It had a small but incredibly eloquent voice."
Best director John Tiffany told media he was inspired by his father playing in a brass band in Yorkshire.
"There's something about the way working-class men could communicate through music but not words," he said.
Best lead actor in a musical Steve Kazee, from Once, said he had grown up "dirt poor in the middle of nowhere and you don't expect things to happen" so he was "absolutely shocked" by the win.
Best play: Clybourne Park
Best musical: Once
Best original score: Newsies
Best lead actor: Play - James Corden in One Man, Two Guvnors; Musical - Steve Kazee in Once
Best lead actress: Play - Nina Arianda in Venus in Fur; Musical - Audra McDonald in The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess.
Special Tony Award: Hugh Jackman and Actors' Equity Association
Honours for excellence in theatre: Freddie Gershon, Artie Siccardi, TDF Open Doors.